Bright arrays of molded cheeses colored with herbs and spices appear regularly in fine Parisian cheese shops but are difficult to find on this side of the Atlantic.
Making your own flavored molded cheeses at home is not difficult, however, and the idea offers many possibilities for variation.
Since most of us think of using soft cheese as an appetizer, rather than for dessert in the European style, such a savory combination as bacon, sun-dried tomatoes and minced green onion mixed into fresh white cheese makes a good hors d'oeuvre.
Cream cheese, fresh mild goat cheese or a soft fresh Italian cow's cheese are all suitable for molding because they will retain their shape when refrigerated. Coffee cups are handy molds since the cheese takes on the shape of an oversize thimble and unmolding problems are eliminated by lining the cup with oiled plastic wrap.
Imported From Italy
Sun-dried tomatoes are available in specialty food stores and increasingly in supermarkets. Most brands are imported from Italy and therefore are packed in olive oil, which should be drained and returned to the jar for use in salad dressing.
Fresh mild goat cheese is widely available in cheese shops, specialty stores and supermarkets. It is a good idea to sample goat cheese before using it in a recipe and choose one with a low salt content. The quantity of salt varies greatly in both cheese and bacon so care must be taken to avoid an overly salty result.
2 medium green onions, cut in 1-inch lengths
1/2 pound cream cheese, at room temperature, cubed
1/4 pound mild goat cheese, rind removed
1/4 cup whipping cream
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 pound crisply cooked bacon, crumbled
1/3 cup firmly packed drained sun-dried tomatoes, thinly sliced
1 cup minced chives
Insert metal blade in dry processor. Place green onions in container and pulse to mince. Set aside. Add cream cheese, goat cheese, cream and pepper to processor. Pulse to thoroughly blend. Add green onions, bacon and tomatoes and process with half-second pulses to evenly mix. Do not puree.
Brush 2 (10-inch-long) sheets of plastic wrap lightly with olive oil. Place each sheet of plastic into coffee cup. Tightly pack each cup with half of cheese mixture, mounding slightly as necessary. Tap cups to eliminate air bubbles. Cover and refrigerate 4 hours or overnight.
At serving time, remove plastic wrap from cups. Spread chives on sheet of wax paper. Roll top and sides of each molded cheese in chives. Serve chilled. Makes 8 to 10 servings.